Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE MODERN MAJOR-GENERAL, FR. THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, by WILLIAM SCHWENCK GILBERT



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THE MODERN MAJOR-GENERAL, FR. THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I am the very pattern [or, model] of a modern major-gineral [general]
Last Line: I'm still the very model of a modern major-general.
Alternate Author Name(s): Gilbert, W. S.
Variant Title(s): Major General's Song
Subject(s): Generals


I am the very model of a modern Major-General,
I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical,
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical;
I'm very well acquainted too with matters mathematical,
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical,
About binomial theorem I'm teeming with a lot o' news—
With many cheerful facts about the square on the hypotenuse.

I'm very good at integral and differential calculus,
I know the scientific names of being animalculous;
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I'm the very model of a modern Major-General.

I know our mythic history, King Arthur's and Sir Caradoc's,
I answer hard acrostics, I've a pretty taste for paradox,
I quote in elegiacs all the crimes of Heliogabalus,
In conics I can floor peculiarities parabulous.
I can tell undoubted Raphaels from Gerard Dows and Zoffanies,
I know the croaking chorus from the Frogs of Aristophanes,
Then I can hum a fugue of which I've heard the music's din afore,
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore.

Then I can write a washing bill in Babylonic cuneiform,
And tell you every detail of Caractacus' uniform;
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.

In fact, when I know what is meant by "mamelon" and "ravelin,"
When I can tell at sight a chassepot rifle from a javelin,
When such affairs as sorties and surprises I'm more wary at,
And when I know precisely what is meant by "commissariat,"
When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery,
When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery:
In short, when I've a smattering of elemental strategy,
You'll say a better Major-General has never sat a gee—

For my military knowledge, though I'm plucky and adventury,
Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century;
But still in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I'm still the very model of a modern Major-General.





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